However, his pre-lockout market didn’t seem to move all that smoothly.
Yankees and Cubs both not inconceivable for Rizzo, depending on how market plays out. If Freeman back to ATL, Yankees seem most likely. Also wouldn't rule out Marlins, who could use the bat and obviously there's the Florida connection. https://t.co/oddRIXTizP
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 3, 2021
Other than that, there haven’t been many reports about interested teams.
Why is this happening to Rizzo?
It’s not a secret that MLB teams are wary of long-term contracts given to players over 30 years old.
This has to do with a natural concern about rapid decline in performance, which is most commonly associated with age and the odds increase after 30.
Rizzo is currently 32 years old, and will turn 33 during the 2022 MLB season.
It’s not realistic to imagine him returning to his best version.
His best seasons came in 2014 and 2015.
In 2014, he hit .286/.386/.527 with 32 homers, 89 runs, 78 RBI, and 5.3 Wins Above Replacement, or WAR.
A year later, he slashed .278/.387/.512 with 31 round-trippers, 94 runs, 101 RBI, and 5.2 WAR.
He achieved just 1.6 WAR in 2021, and it’s unrealistic to think he will perform like he was 24 or 25, when he put up the aforementioned numbers.
His age will definitely take away some points from Rizzo in teams’ consideration.
2. Demand (Or Lack Thereof)
MLB free agency, as with lots of professional leagues in the world, involves player transactions and free agency.
The free agent market is determined by supply and demand.
Right now, there is not a high demand for a first baseman, unless he is a true difference-maker like Freeman.
Not many teams want or need a first baseman, and those who do prefer to bring up a prospect or minor leaguer, or go with the cheap route in free agency.
Rizzo, unfortunately, plays first base, which is a ‘non-premium’ position.
If he was younger or hadn’t shown signs of steep decline in the last few seasons, perhaps there would be more demand for him even though he plays first base.
But (age and decline) variables are also affecting his market.
1. Recent Decline In Performance
Unfortunately, Rizzo has been declining for a while now, and even teams without too much involvement in analytics recognize this.
His comments are a bit extreme but he's not necessarily wrong. Rizzo is already a player in clear decline. A 2-3 year deal for Rizzo ensures you're paying for additional decline and his contract will be untradeable. Olson really should be their primary target. #Yankees
— Guy Smiley (@GuySmil56007185) December 1, 2021
Let’s evaluate his recent performance by wRC+, or weighted Runs Created Plus.
The wRC+ stat is compilation of offensive statistics that lets us determine how does a player fare in comparison to his peers.
It uses 100 as the ‘average’ evaluation: anything lower is below-average, and anything higher is above-average.
During Rizzo’s prime, reached in 2014 and 2015, he had 155 and 145 wRC+ marks, respectively, with another 145 in 2016.
His last year in the elite was 2019, when he had a 140 wRC+ with a .293/.405/.520 line, 27 home runs, 89 runs, and 94 RBI.
Then, in 2020, his offensive performance decreased to a 102 wRC+ (.222/.342/.414).
The 2021 campaign was more of the same, with a 112 wRC+ (.248/.344/.440, 22 homers in 141 games).
Rizzo is now a slightly above-average offensive first baseman with declining defensive skills, too (-6 DRS, 0.1 UZR).
Teams don’t want to pay top dollar for that package because it involves way more risk than they are willing to absorb, understandably so.